Image-based scaling laws for somatic growth and pulmonary artery morphometry from infancy to adulthood

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2020 Aug 1;319(2):H432-H442. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00123.2020. Epub 2020 Jul 3.


Pulmonary artery (PA) morphometry has been extensively explored in adults, with particular focus on intra-acinar arteries. However, scaling law relationships for length and diameter of extensive preacinar PAs by age have not been previously reported for in vivo human data. To understand preacinar PA growth spanning children to adults, we performed morphometric analyses of all PAs visible in the computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) images from a healthy subject cohort [n = 16; age: 1-51 yr; body surface area (BSA): 0.49-2.01 m2]. Subject-specific anatomic PA models were constructed from CT and MR images, and morphometric information-diameter, length, tortuosity, bifurcation angle, and connectivity-was extracted and sorted into diameter-defined Strahler orders. Validation of Murray's law, describing optimal scaling exponents of radii for branching vessels, was performed to determine how closely PAs conform to this classical relationship. Using regression analyses of vessel diameters and lengths against orders and patient metrics (BSA, age, height), we found that diameters increased exponentially with order and allometrically with patient metrics. Length increased allometrically with patient metrics, albeit weakly. The average tortuosity index of all vessels was 0.026 ± 0.024, average bifurcation angle was 28.2 ± 15.1°, and average Murray's law exponent was 2.92 ± 1.07. We report a set of scaling laws for vessel diameter and length, along with other morphometric information. These provide an initial understanding of healthy structural preacinar PA development with age, which can be used for computational modeling studies and comparison with diseased PA anatomy.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Pulmonary artery (PA) morphometry studies to date have focused primarily on large arteries and intra-acinar arteries in either adults or children, neglecting preacinar arteries in both populations. Our study is the first to quantify in vivo preacinar PA morphometry changes spanning infants to adults. For preacinar arteries > 1 mm in diameter, we identify scaling laws for vessel diameters and lengths with patient metrics of growth and establish a healthy PA morphometry baseline for most preacinar PAs.

Keywords: healthy pulmonary artery; morphometry; patient metrics; pediatric scaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aging*
  • Body Height
  • Body Surface Area
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Computed Tomography Angiography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Patient-Specific Modeling*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pulmonary Artery / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Artery / growth & development*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult